Victory Lane – Bojangles’ Southern 500
By Tyler Miller – @rickybobby_jr
It’s Throwback Weekend and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will race 500
miles around Darlington Raceway Sunday night. William Byron is the pole sitter for the
race, his 4 th pole of the season. Kyle Busch is starting 39 th after an engine issue in
qualifying. I am targeting single entry tournaments for the Southern 500. The increased
difficulty at Darlington and the length of the race (500 miles, usually run in around 4
hours) pulls me away from cash games and over to single entry contests where can put
our best lineup in play with the potential for a much bigger payout. I think the winning
strategy in a single entry contest is to stack the top end and play one value driver. Let’s
Denny Hamlin ($14,000/11,400) I’m rolling with Denny Hamlin this week. Hamlin is
coming off 6 consecutive top 5 finishes which include wins at Bristol and Pocono.
Hamlin’s single lap speed in final practice was 8 th , but he was top 5 in consecutive runs
of 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 laps. I like Hamlin to win the race Sunday night.
Martin Truex Jr. ($12,500/10,200) Martin Truex Jr. qualified 22 nd but showed top 10
speed in final practice. I like the experience Truex brings to the Southern 500. In 13
career races at Darlington, Truex has completed 4,778 out of 4,782 laps. He won this
race three years ago and has led laps in each of the last three races at Darlington.
Kyle Larson ($11,500/10,600) Kyle Larson has the second best driver rating and third
best average running position at Darlington. Larson has completed 1841 out of 1842
laps in 5 career starts. Larson ran the fastest 5, 10, 15, and 20 lap speeds in final
practice. Starting 3 rd , Kyle Larson is a must start Sunday night at Darlington.
Chase Elliott ($10,800/9,300) I think Chase Elliott will be overlooked in DFS this
weekend. William Byron is on the pole, so I am confident that Hendrick Motorsports has
a good package for this race. Elliott’s career numbers at Darlington are not outstanding.
In 4 races he has finished 41st, 10th, 11th, and 5 th . He did not run 10 consecutive laps in
final practice, but was able to qualify 8 th after posting single lap speeds of 21 st and 18 th in
the two practices on Friday. Elliott could be a valuable asset in tournaments as an
under-owned driver who can finish the race in the top 5.
Kyle Busch ($15,000/11,900) Kyle Busch is almost too good to pass up. He had an
engine issue in qualifying forcing the team to swap engines and start the race 39 th
(though DK is still showing him as 33 rd ). Kyle showed top 3 speed in final practice and a
top 5 finish would easily score enough points to justify the 15k price tag. This is going to
be such an obvious play for everybody that I actually like not using him and freeing up
enough salary to use (3 of the 4) Hamlin, Truex, Larson, and Elliott. Obviously using
Kyle Busch could work out really well, and in a multi-lineup situation you need to have
exposure to him. But, in a single entry contest, I like the contrary move of fading him.
Erik Jones ($10,200/8,700) Erik Jones showed top 10 speed in final practice, but will
he be able to earn enough points to pay his premium salary on Fan Duel? I like Jones to
improve on his starting position on Sunday, but I’m not sure if it will be enough to justify
his salary of over 10k. Jones is starting the race 15 th .
Aric Almirola ($8,800/7,800) Aric Almirola had a terrible qualifying effort and will start
the Southern 500 in 30 th position. Almirola did not run 10 consecutive laps in final
practice but was 13 th in single lap speed and 9 th in 5 lap average. That’s enough to make
me confident he can improve his starting position and finish in the teens, making him
the most viable mid-tier option.
William Byron ($8,200/7,100) I don’t have confidence that William Byron can win the
race, but I do think he can lead some laps early and finish in the top 10. At his salary, a
6 th -8 th place finish would provide a solid return on investment. If he can lead enough laps
early to make up for some of the negative differential points he will have at the end of
the night he could be a solid play.
Ryan Newman ($8,400/8,300) Ryan Newman is a safe play for Sunday night. If I was
playing cash games I would include Newman in a core lineup. He probably won’t finish
in the top 10, but he is very unlikely to score negative differential points. I think Newman
can finish in the top 15 which is safe, but probably not good enough to be included in a
Reed Sorenson ($2,500/5,00) and Matt Tifft ($3,000/5,200) I like Reed Sorenson a
little bit more than Matt Tifft this weekend but I think they are both solid value plays.
Sorenson is only $2,500 on Fan Duel making him a viable option to use if you end up
using Kyle Busch. They qualified 33 rd and 32 nd respectively. All you are hoping for with
either of these drivers is to run within 5 laps of the leaders and finish better than they
My core lineup for Darlington includes Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, and Aric Almirola.
Tyler Miller is a lifelong NASCAR enthusiast who spent five years as a producer
on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (2008-2013). Upon meeting his wife in Washington
DC, Tyler became an Army spouse and left his career to move all over the country
and help raise their two children. Tyler holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sport
Communication and Electronic Media Production from Ashland University and is
currently pursuing a Masters’ of Science degree in Marketing: Sports Marketing
and Media, from Liberty University.